New boy Ilnicki so happy to be a Saint

Jake Ilnicki started for the Wanderers against Leicester on Monday night

Jake Ilnicki started for the Wanderers against Leicester on Monday night

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Most people would sleep to get over jet lag, but not Jake Ilnicki.

The Canada prop arrived in Northampton from his homeland last week and was immediately plunged into a 'whirlwind couple of days'.

Having hardly had any time with his new club, Ilnicki was named in the Wanderers team to face Leicester Tigers in an Aviva A League Northern Conference derby battle.

And he shrugged off the need for sleep to put in a strong 65-minute showing in a 20-11 victory at Franklin's Gardens on Monday night.

"I've just hopped off the plane, but so far it's been pretty good and I'm enjoying the local rugby vibe," said Ilnicki, who played for Canada during the autumn internationals.

"I felt like I had a pretty good tour in the fall so I was just sitting there, crossing my fingers and hoping something would happen.

"This kind of came up out of nowhere and I'm really happy to be here."

Ilnicki faced Ireland and Samoa during the autumn, but he didn't know much about the English game.

"The whole Premiership is pretty new to me," he said.

"I did a quick Google and there were a couple of players I'd played against for a while so that was cool.

"My last club experience was great. I was at Manawatu in New Zealand, playing in the Mitre 10 Cup and that was one of the highlights of the year.

"I played with some Super Rugby players and a couple of All Blacks, and learning from them really helped my game.

"It was pretty special because you see those guys on the big screen all the time and getting to know them and finding out how humble they are was pretty awesome.

"I learned about the speed of the game and technical things you don't even think about in training.

"Pushing each other is the biggest thing I learned."

Ilnicki, who has arrived at Saints until the end of the season following a recent injury to Gareth Denman, will now be pushing the likes of Paul Hill and Kieran Brookes.

And he is looking forward to trying to force his way into the first-team picture.

"I'm going to work really hard here," said Ilnicki.

"It was really fun to be out on the field on Monday and getting out there was just like riding a bike - it was fantastic.

"Everyone told me how much the game against Leicester meant and it was pretty awesome to get a win.

"I just want to get a position in the team, grind it out and learn as much as I can from the guys here."